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Lady of the lake, version #938

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Au revoir, 2011



Well here I am. 850 posts, 200 more than last year, tied up neatly in a bow. Grumpy said that my need for numerical symmetry was a symptom of some deep mental illness and I guess I will take that although I must say he says a lot of things that he later retracts. 850 just felt like a better way to leave things than 849, I'm sorry.

I was talking to friend who got his first book deal this year. Unfortunately people don't read books too much anymore, it is sort of old school you know? Anyway I won't say that I am quitting, because both you and I know that I can't but I hope that I can start writing privately again and get back to writing some fiction. Some things have to be wrapped in gauze and fictionalized, just so's nobody locks me up and throws me in a looney ward. Might have to get a fancy pseudonym.

Anyway my friend felt that it is better to write and have an audience that reads you than write and get left on a lonely shelf and I will take that to heart. Thanks for stopping by. I know that I am incessant. Got a lot on my mind. The greatest sin is to squander one's resources and I feel very fortunate.  And thankful that people take the time to listen. Sounds corny but true.

I want to thank all of you for your friendship, my homies, my cyberkin, most of all my wife. I look at life's tapestry and I have to honestly tell you that it is showing a lot of wear. Scratches in the paint, holes in the fabric, aches in all the joints, bulging midriff. I'm not putting up too good a front. But fuck it, as we used to say in the old neighborhood, the only thing that matters is loving and engaging as many people as you can.

Peace out.

It's a Man's World




I have posted a lot of great music on this blog, thank god for Youtube. If the SOPA law gets passed, this blog could disappear in an instant if some unknown person decided that I was posting protected content. Everything I have ever written will vanish in a poof! And that will be it. No hard copy backup. Those are the breaks. I can make an XML file but don't know if the content will be readable.

I could listen to certain tracks, like the daytime Albert Collins Same Old Thing every day. Here are some of my other favorites:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiJEHeUqCEE - Older Glen Campbell - These Days




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyARwzjJee0 - Robert Cray, All your lovin

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rP7r12Rg490  It makes no difference, The Band

Trendspotting


I am no international man of mystery but I do get around and try to keep my eyes and ears open. I have noticed a couple trends of late that I think are worth mentioning. First the cool one. I have noticed that, especially in urban areas, hot young chicks in their twenties are restoring and riding beautiful 60's motorcycles, both british and japanese. Nortons and Triumphs and Honda 250's. I saw the sweetest Honda 250 in San Francisco earlier this year, with a pretty lass astride. Great color palettes on these bikes and even nicer with a comely vixen on top. I have noticed it in San Diego and L.A. as well and just want to say, you go girl!

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Another thing that I have noticed is that do to rampant texting and tweeting, posture is really poor these days. It is a great talent to be able to walk and use those opposable thumbs in tandem, but many people resemble some evolutionary throwback. Not to mention all the time we spend at our monitors. Chiropractors have to love this technology boom.

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Speaking of texting, is it just me or does anybody else find the dumbing down of language infuriating. I am speaking of the habit of substituting u for you in a letter, like c u latr. A lot of my pals do this and I want to shriek. I guess it is because I am the son of an editor and an ex proof reader but it is very annoying. I hate it even in text form, in fact I hate texting. Send me an email, please don't text.

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I was listening to the new UCLA football coach on the radio the other day and heard another of my favorite bugaboos. Jim Mora Jr., not exactly a brain surgeon, and certainly not ghetto raised, said something in response to a question that sounded on the order of "That would be pure conjuncture." Jim Rhome does this a lot as well. Hey, just because a word sounds a lot like another word, in this case conjecture, doesn't mean that they are interchangeable and you will end up sounding really stupid.

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Online Begging. I got this letter from our Prez today titled, Hey Robert, it's Barack. Like we are bro's now.

Well hey bro, I'm a little tapped right now. Can you call off your dogs? Because I get five of these a day and I'm not giving you another penny. We have issues. We can discuss them later.  I gave a few bucks to another nonprofit that shall remain nameless and they are badgering me daily as well. Big turn off. The door is now shut.

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As my loyal readers know, I am of the E1b1b1c1* - d1 persuasion. My posse left Somalia about 22,400 years ago, chasing the dream. I have spent a lot of time researching my personal genetics and touching base with my extended clan. You can too.

Today is the last day for Family Tree DNA's winter sale. Click here to get a great deal. If you want to check your DNA against a huge database of humans and ascertain cousinship to five generations, order an autosomal Family Finder test. It is a hundred bucks off if you order today. I have over a thousand new cousins, including email addresses. Men can check their paternal Y-DNA and their mitochondrial DNA or MtDNA. Women, MtDNA and FF. Everybody who has done it on my recommendation has been happy, except for that one guy who was miffed because he couldn't find any link to royalty.

Once you start on this quest there is no turning back and you will never regret it. Trust me. Dip your toe in and spend two hundred bucks on the Family Finder test. You have until midnight for the cheap rates.

Sunrise over the Visitacíon Valley

My friend Kerry B up in San Francisco sent over this nice pic of this morning's sunrise.

Mean Woman Blues

Charge

I am not going to pretend to be some big time über Chargers fan these days. I certainly have been at certain times of my life. A San Diego native, I grew up a season ticket holder. Balboa Stadium. Sid Gillman was a good friend of my pop and used to come over to our house for parties. I watched Ladd and Garrison and Speedy Duncan and kept on loving the team through the Coryell era.

Something changed for me when the Spanos family bought the team. It would be simple to ascribe it to their political affiliation but I think or at least hope that I am bigger than that. The business of sports is just plain ugly. I didn't like how they hosed the city of San Diego on the renovations to the Murph.

San Diego is in a dither right now about the Chargers implosion this year. Fire Norv Turner, fire general manager A.J. Smith. I have a contrarian view. I would like to keep them both.

The Chargers were hit with some bad injuries this year. A.J. missed a few times on the draft. What aggressive person doesn't occasionally make a mistake? He is an excellent talent evaluator. I do not think this is the time to blow the team up.

If there is a problem with the Chargers, I point my finger at Dean Spanos an entitled rich kid whose daddy gave him a team. When you get bitten by a pit bull, you can't really blame the dog, you blame the owner.

When the Vincent Jackson contract squeeze happened last year, I read some interviews with Deano. He was going to show everybody just how tough and mean he could be. Ballbusting 101. His regime treats players like chattel, uses them up and kicks them out the door when their services are no longer required with barely a nod. Rodney, Junior, Sproles, LT, the list goes on and on. Marty. I think that this attitude comes right from the owner. A.J. is Dean's pitbull. Dean has fed the dog raw meat and he got arrogant with his own power and forgot how to treat people respectfully.

The easy thing now would be to just get rid of the dog. But I don't think it is the fair thing to do. The team is not that far off. Give it another year.

The Music Machine - Talk Talk

End of year, with cold.

I have a few friends who have been real sick this week. R´ was actually briefly hospitalized with a major cold/respiratory thing. I was traipsing around, counting my blessings for missing this one and feeling so damn good when the cold hit me last night like a ton of bricks. Feel like hell. Prone on the couch , living on matzo ball life support. So don't expect Hemingway today. I only got so much.

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George Will offered a pithy and somewhat dyspeptic analysis yesterday on the race to the presidency which I found interesting. Mostly in its omission. It is titled Confident Conservatives, why 2012 could be a good year, even without defeating Obama. Give it a read, but keep a dictionary in one hand, Will gets extra money from Webster every time you open it up to try to understand him.

You can read him and draw your own conclusions but I think that he is saying a couple of things, in a nutshell. Casting a glance at the current crop of Republican candidates, it is a safe bet that Obama is going to clean our clocks this year but it is okay because we will take the Senate and bring government to a standstill. And we can get back in our big fat SUV's because we have enough fossil fuel to make it a few more centuries at least, fake reports of global warming notwithstanding.
Although they have become prone to apocalyptic forebodings about the fragility of the nation’s institutions and traditions under the current president, conservatives should stride confidently into 2012. This is not because they are certain, or even likely, to defeat President Obama this year. Rather, it is because, if they emancipate themselves from their unconservative fixation on the presidency, they will see events unfolding in their favor. And when Congress is controlled by one party, as it might be a year from now, it can stymie an overreaching executive.
...Before this year is many months old, discerning conservatives may decide that Obama probably has been rescued by the Republican nominating electorate and hence it is time to begin focusing on two things other than the 2012 presidential election. One is capturing the Senate. The other is preparing the ground for a better presidential nomination competition in 2016.
So I have a couple questions as I said, George. Do we really want another four years of standstill, infighting and partisanship, with every governmental rule accompanied by a nasty gnashing of teeth and threat of shutdown and paralysis? Putting partisan politics side for a moment, is that a good thing for our nation?

Conservatives have been casting Obama as the foreign born muslim version of the devil incarnate for the last four years. I certainly have my issues with him. But if he is so freaking awful, why is there such a good chance that he gets elected again? I would think that you guys would have a shoo in. Maybe the problem isn't finding an ideal candidate, but instead a palatable platform?

Look at the murderers row of loonies in this year's clown car. Tin hats aloft, quoting scripture of hellfire and damnation, is this the best you can do? Romney is definitely the sanest of this bunch, but he packs the inspiration of a mid level manager at General Motors. Your wife, of course, works for Rick Perry, a man who never paid too much attention in history class and is now reduced to trying to battle Santorum and Bachmann for the most "saved evangelical" status. Can you pin a whole campaign message on smiting the sodomites? Perhaps your problems are more systemic. While the extreme views of your candidates might wow them in Des Moines, it is possible that they will not resonate so well with the national audience.

Iowa is a scary place. Apologies to my friends at Grinnell and the faithful blast reader from Council Bluffs. When a buffoon like Rep. Steven King is a presidential kingmaker, we have serious problems folks. You have to adopt the most outlandish positions to win a republican primary and then spend the rest of the campaign convincing everybody that you really didn't mean all those things. Because your party sounds really goofy and mean spirited and out of touch with the normal american populace.

Paul of course, would be a godsend for Obama. How many more rabid newsletters are waiting to be discovered? It would be a gift a week for our president. I don't think Romney would be a bad choice but don't know if an overwhelmingly christian electorate could vote for a mormon and his stance on abortion is troubling to me. I do think that he would try to act as a conciliator. But many Republicans who got elected on the last go round promised to lay off the social issues stuff and turned out to be lying. So you don't really know what kind of agenda he has. Don't think he is helped by his sons playing the birther card.

I guess, like most americans I want the whole election to be over. Our national ignorance is making me sick to my stomach and I already have a cold. I find myself longing for the days of Bush I and Clinton when we Americans had leaders that could put their differences aside and work together for the good of the country.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Just My Baby

Estrellas

I want to recap my Fallbrook mexican food survey. So far I have dined at, and these are in no particular order, La Caseta, Rosa's, Mi Amigo, El Jardin, Village Taco, El Parque, Pedro's, Las Brisas, Robertito's, El Toro Market and Estrellas. I still need to eat at El Sombrero, Pala Mesa Market, Northgate, Bonita Foods and the  truck set up outside the Happy Jug at night. That is 16, if you happen to be counting from home. I will reserve comparative final judgement until all of the establishments have been sampled.

As I said when I commenced this intestinal trek on my digestive tract, all of these restaurants have their strengths, weaknesses and adoring fans. I have heard from many of you regarding this quest, many from far away, and I know how serious one can be regarding one's mexican grub. I certainly don't want any stale chimichangas thrown at my front door so I am trying my utmost to be objective. So far there are only two places that I will guarantee that I will never return to. I am sure that you can figure them out if you have been paying attention.

Yesterday I ate at Estrellas. Estrellas was in Bonsall until the freeway routed through earlier this year and they moved uptown. I never went to the place in Bonsall. Why? Because the place that was there before them was so dirty, scary and frankly horrifying. The sins of the father are sometimes unfairly transferred to the offspring. At least in my weird universe.

I had eaten their food at Hot Summer Nights and the Fallbrook Film Festival and it was damn good. But sometimes special occasion food is not always what you get at the sit down restaurant.

I have now eaten at the restaurant three times, counting yesterday. The first two times were rather perfunctory and not all that great. I had a combinacion plata the day it first opened, good but nothing special. The first thing you notice is the excellent quality of their dual style chips (flour and corn) and the nice and spicy salsa. Like the better sit down restaurants in its weight class, the prices are about double what you would pay at Robertitos and a little more than Rosas. The menu has an extensive offering of shrimp dishes, all around the twelve dollar mark.

Yesterday I had their carnitas plate, very nice and pleasing. Pork was pulled, moist and succulent. Rice and beans were so so, compared to La Caseta and Rosas, my favorites in this regard. It came with two tortillas, was really a three tortilla plate but I suppose that I could have always asked. On the subject of tortillas, none of the tortillas in town anywhere come even close to my gold standard, La Cabanita in Montrose or the better homemade tortillas like El Indio in San Diego or the Old Town Mexican restaurant. I like them thick, imperfect, limey  and clearly hand made. Anyway this meal was far better than my first two, the second of which was their sopes which were a bit of a bore. If I want sopes in this town, I will go to Las Brisas in a heartbeat.

Estrellas has a mixed anglo hispanic clientele and fierce devotees. Most of the hispanic people that I trust in terms of food count it as their favorite local mexican dining spot as well as many of my gringo friends. If I had been remotely scientific about this culinary excursion I would have ordered the same dish at every restaurant. The menu at Estrellas is too promising for me to dismiss it without venturing in to sample some of the specials. The staff and the owner I think I talked to seemed really committed to their food and were very nice as well.

My two longtime favorite dishes in this town are La Caseta's shrimp diavalo and Rosa's camarones mojo de ajo. Before I mentally stick Estrellas in some undeserved category I need to try their garlic shrimp plate. I look forward to it. Feliz Nuevo Año!

Bo Diddley-I`m High Again


My baby just gave me a kiss and I don't need no lsd...

When food is outlawed, only outlaws will have food...


The long and insidious reach of the nanny state is reaching out its scaly tentacles once again. Word from the California Highway Patrol that they are going to go after people eating in their cars while driving. CHP crackdown includes drivers who eat behind the wheel, Los Angeles Times 12/30/11.

Under California’s vehicle code, a driver can be ticketed $145 to $1,000 for having “wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” This, we are now informed, includes eating.

Let me be the first to say that this is a ridiculous infringement, ludicrous in its scope and something I plan on challenging at every possible moment. In fact I am going to run out to Circle K and down a couple Hostess Cupcakes™ right now as a protest while navigating the local roads. I also have a fervent hope that the officers will be similarly prohibited from eating donuts in their cruisers. But I am sure that the law does not apply to them.

The picture above is a collage of some of my favorite road food. The two essentials, and I am on the road a lot and know of what I speak, are Skittles™ and beef jerky. Jerky is a must. I honestly rarely do the cupcakes, the guilt index is just too high and if I do break down, usually have to hide the evidence before I get home. Tried the Dolly Madison version the other week with no apparent drop off in quality. If I am driving to the bay I will add the trail mix, usually the Trader Joes or Whole Foods with the cranberries. Don't ever get the trail mix with chocolate unless you want a big mess on your hands, literally.

Corn nuts are another nice distraction, but a bag might only last a minute or two. I like the fiji™, don't know why but the square bottle just tastes better. The sliced duck breast is nice if they have it at the Rosemeade Whole Foods, my usual first pit stop. Might go for the rare roast beef and emmentaler swiss too. Oranges are always nice.

Jack in the box tacos are core and cheap, two at 99 cents one of the best deals on the planet.

I think it is high time that we rise up and tell these dogooder bureaucrats to back off and keep their hands off our munchies. We get very angry when we get hungry.

Thank you.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cracking Up

Bugs 1, corn 0

When Monsanto rolled out the Bt modified corn in 2003, they said it would be an answer to a farmer's dreams, impervious to western corn rootworms. Why the corn manufactured its own insecticide. Now over 65% of the country's corn production is in the genetically modified corn. Monsanto Co. created the Bt strain by splicing a gene from Bacillus thuringiensis into the plant organism.

And guess what, the rootworms have now managed to work out a resistance and now the rootworms are munching on the stuff like crazy. First noticed at Iowa State.

Scientists point to several things in regards to the reason for the problem. They say that they always knew that some resistance would be developed. But farmers needed to practice crop rotation and also plant a non Bt corn/traditional zone in their field to give the rootworms something to eat.

"But growers often go for expediency over long-term investments in multi-pronged and labor intensive crop protection."Janet Raloff

Experts pointed out to the record price of corn as a reason that the farmers failed to rotate.

"If rootworms do become resistant to Bt corn, it "could become the most economically damaging example of insect resistance to a genetically modified crop in the U.S.," said Bruce Tabashnik, an entomologist at the University of Arizona. "It's a pest of great economic significance — a billion-dollar pest."

We are not smart enough to play around with this stuff and properly assess the potential harm GMO foods will wreak on a fragile ecosystem. Farmer isn't going to always do the right thing if there is money on the line.

A Whiter Shade of Pale

Checking out

For some reason, suicide has been on my mind lately. Not my own, just the subject in general. I have been suffering a normal, seasonal winter depression but think that I would lean more to homicide in any case. Friend told me to try full spectrum light bulbs and that it might be all the christmas music. Yes, thank god that's over.

Anyhow, you can't pick up a paper without reading about someone offing themselves and their loving family members these days, one in a Santa suit no less last week, I confess I couldn't even look at that one. There are many causes for depression that I suppose could lead one to want to check out, the pain stemming from an inability to take care of your flock I would think would rank the very highest on the list.

We do a piss poor job talking about death in our culture and have an even greater phobia about discussing relatively healthy people taking their own life. I lost a good friend two years ago, a man who possessed wealth beyond estimation. He got depressed. The shrinks called it an agitated depression. He was looking four years down the road and saw trouble ahead for his business, real or imagined.

He didn't feel that he had the strength to fight against whatever he saw coming. You could say that he was wrong, or selfish, or even delusional but I think that I know what my friend was going through. As delusional as it might be, however things would have ultimately worked out, it was very real for him. And I love and miss him no matter if his fears were founded or crafted out of thin air. We all feel pain differently and we all have a different threshold of just how much we can stand.

Writers seem to like to take themselves out of the picture, why is that? Plath, Brautigan, Mishima, Koestler, way back to Petronius even. I found a master list, I am sure that there are a few missing. Dentists and vets are right up there too. But why writers out of all the practitioners of the arts? Why not painters, or potters, or decoupage artists? Whittlers or cinematographers? Poets and scribes. Is the level of raw emotion, of naked vulnerability, more present for a wordsmith? Or did it just become the trendy thing to do? The old Spalding Gray number. Very bizarre. I couldn't kill myself. Bloggers without a publishing deal carry no literary cachet, even while resting in their final repose.

Had a neighbor in Rainbow give himself a custom dirt nap many years ago. Gene, our neighbor and an ex cop, thought that the least the guy could have done was take it outside, he was quite repulsed that anyone would make their final exit in a bathroom that some loved one would have to clean up. That is selfish. I agree with him. Take it outside. And don't take anyone with you. Or better yet, sleep it off, things will probably look a lot better tomorrow.

Merle Haggard - If We Make It Through December

Thursday Non Sequitur

I have changed my gallery hours at the Blue Heron Gallery to appointment only. Anyone wishing an appointment can call me at 760-731-9355. I believe that my time will be better served going out and finding fresh things than sitting at the shop and, gasp, blogging.

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Kim Jong Un, the newly appointed supreme leader of North Korea is being hailed as the "Great Successor, Supreme Leader and Sagacious Leader." I had to look up sagacious again to make sure.

sagacious |səˈgā sh əs|
adjective
having or showing keen mental discernment and good judgment; shrewd : they were sagacious enough to avoid any outright confrontation. 
DERIVATIVES
sagaciously adverb
ORIGIN early 17th cent.: from Latin sagax, sagac- ‘wise’ + -ious .

Wow, not even thirty and he is already all that. Hey, what the hell, how in the hell do I know if he is indeed, sagacious or not? What I find most interesting is the efforts that must be going on behind the scenes by the real power brokers, presumably the military to keep the whole autocratic, paranoid, vicious regime going forward, nary missing a beat. 

Because it is one thing to worship a ruler who rules his tortured fiefdom as an almost religious figure, and another matter entirely to craft the same image for a wet behind the ears punk kid. Takes a much better sales job. So they are very vulnerable right now. People might have an enlightened moment and the whole jig is up. You never know? There are reports that there is disquiet both among the citizenry and amongst the military.

So who are the powerbrokers? The Christian Science Monitor reports that the announcement of the succession was made by Yang Hyong-sop, a member of the political bureau of the Workers’ Party. "Our people are honored to be led by the great president Kim Il-sung and the great general Kim Jong-il. Now we also have the honor of being led by General Kim Jong-un." The other behind the scenes puppeteers might be General Choe Ryong Hae, General Oh Kum Chol, and Military Director-General Oh Il Jong, according to the South Korean daily Chosun Ilbo.

North Korea has to be the strangest place, a starving populace, a nepotistic dictatorship that has engaged in acts of criminal deception and malice out of a medieval storybook.  Here is some of the legendary tale of the dearly departed Great Leader.

He was supposedly born in 1942 at a secret military camp on Mount Paektu, revered as the birthplace of the Korean people. His birth was prophesied by a swallow, and heralded by a double rainbow over the mountain. Historical records show him actually being born in Siberia, in an anti japanese guerrilla camp.

He had a nasty habit of kidnapping both innocent Japanese and South Koreans for his playthings. It is said that they kidnapped 70 to 80 people but the North Koreans will admit to only 13 and say that everything is cool because they sent 5 back. In 1980, the North Korean Rodong newspaper celebrates Kim’s continued rise within the Workers’ Party: “Christians, do not go to Jerusalem. Come rather to Korea. Do not believe in God. Believe in the great man.”

He was responsible for downing South Korean Airlines flight # 858, killing 155 people on board according to the confession of the North Korean agent who planted the bomb. He liked to abscond with pretty girls that he saw and then eliminate their families so that no one would talk.

These guys are like evil comic book badasses.

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Reports that the International Monitors now in place in Syria haven't done squat and the daily killings go on unabated. Not hard to figure, they are accompanied by senior members of the Syrian military and those with the temerity to speak out against the regime find themselves suddenly quite dead. The commission is a hoot, one of the members being Sudanese Lt. Gen. Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, wanted himself on charges of committing genocide in Darfur by international tribunals.
Amnesty International said al-Dabi led al-Bashir’s military intelligence service until August 1995, when he was appointed head of external security. “During the early 1990s, the military intelligence in Sudan was responsible for the arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearance, and torture or other ill-treatment of numerous people in Sudan,” it said in a statement.
“The Arab League’s decision to appoint as the head of the observer mission a Sudanese general on whose watch severe human rights violations were committed in Sudan risks undermining the League’s efforts so far and seriously calls into question the mission’s credibility,” Amnesty said.
An Arab League official defended the choice of al-Dabi, saying he enjoyed the support of all 22 members.
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My congressman, Darrell Issa is mentioned in this not so charming article about Issa and the state of his district in AlterNet.
"The hard times that most Americans continue to experience don't seem to be making an impact on their representatives in Washington. Now a new report might shed some light on why. According to a Washington Post story this week, “Between 1984 and 2009, the median net worth of a member of the House more than doubled, according to the analysis of financial disclosures, from $280,000 to $725,000 in inflation-adjusted 2009 dollars, excluding home equity.”
Members of Congress have only been getting richer over the last 25 years.

“Over the same period,” the Post continued, “the wealth of an American family has declined slightly, with the comparable median figure sliding from $20,600 to $20,500." “In Mr. Issa’s case, it is sometimes difficult to separate the business of Congress from the business of Darrell Issa.”...

Those were the words of Eric Lichtblau, writing in the New York Times this August about the activities of the man the Washington Post calls the richest in Congress. According to the Post, he has an average net worth of $448,125,017, and Lichtblau noted that unlike many other wealthy members of Congress (including Rockefeller and Sen. John Kerry), Issa takes a direct hand in running his outside business.

In Issa's Southern California district, 14 percent of the people and 21 percent of the children are living below the poverty line. 13.8 percent are unemployed, and 5.1 percent used food stamps in the past year. Median household income is relatively high --$57,399--but 5 percent still make less than 10K. While Issa has been good at bringing home projects that enhance his private wealth, it seems that many of his constituents are not feeling the benefits.

Lichtblau wrote, “As his private wealth and public power have grown, so too has the overlap between his private and business lives, with at least some of the congressman’s government actions helping to make a rich man even richer and raising the potential for conflicts.”
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My friend Fred had a seizure and had his car impounded. He is s.o.l.. Too bad he doesn't live in Escondido, it is against the law to impound a car there because the latino political muscle is starting to flex its political muscle and fight against immigration policy. The cops and border patrol were towing cars of illegals and it was costing a lot for the illegals to get them out of hock so they can't do that anymore.

I know that what I am going to say will elicit gasps from the more politically correct but here goes anyway. The 65 million in school aid for illegal children so that they can go to university is bullshit. Help legal American kids of all shades and ethnicities, don't reward someone for breaking the law. My friend B had to pay his copay up front for his back surgery two weeks ago. If he had been illegal, the whole thing would be gratis. I have a friend with a latino name that had 100k written off his emergency stomach surgery. How do I know?, I came up with a big chunk of the 12k copay, money I hope to see again one day.

If you decide to drop in to our country and have a batch of kids, don't cry because the I.N.S. is breaking up your happy family. There is a right way and a wrong way to obtain residency. Yet for all of my protestations, more and more sweet deals like the college aid are coming down the pike because politicians know which way the winds blow. And the rising political power is latino. It is a numbers game. So look at the politicians to start going real easy.

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Angry Eyes

Fu

The juvenile red tail male hawk is back in the valley this week, hanging around his old nest and hiding in this picture like a refugee from a Bev Doolittle painting. I snapped this shot early yesterday morning on the way to work. This morning he was sitting on top of an old telephone pole.

The sycamores in the Santa Margarita River canyon are awash with color. I am very lucky to live in a place of such untouched natural beauty.

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All is quiet in my world and I am reminded of a passage from the ancient Chinese book of Wisdom, the I Ching. The book was first written by the mythical sage Fu Hsi (2800 b.c.e.-2737 b.c.e.) and codified by King Wen about 1350 b.c.e..

The passage is from hexagram 24, Fu - Returning. It concerns proper conduct during the time after the winter solstice.

Thunder within the earth:

The image of THE TURNING POINT.
Thus the kings of antiquity closed the passes
At the time of solstice.
Merchants and strangers did not go about,
And the ruler
Did not travel through the provinces.

the judgement:

RETURN. Success.
Going out and coming in without error.
Friends come without blame.
To and fro goes the way.
On the seventh day comes return.
It furthers one to have somewhere to go.

After a time of decay comes the turning point. The powerful light that has
been banished returns. There is movement, but it is not brought about by
force. The upper trigram K'un is characterized by devotion; thus the
movement is natural, arising spontaneously. For this reason the
transformation of the old becomes easy. The old is discarded and the new is
introduced. Both measures accord with the time; therefore no harm results.
Societies of people sharing the same views are formed. But since these
groups come together in full public knowledge and are in harmony with the
time, all selfish separatist tendencies are excluded, and no mistake is made.
The idea of RETURN is based on the course of nature. The movement is
cyclic, and the course completes itself. Therefore it is not necessary to hasten
anything artificially. Everything comes of itself at the appointed time. This is
the meaning of heaven and earth.

All movements are accomplished in six stages, and the seventh brings
return. Thus the winter solstice, with which the decline of the year begins,
comes in the seventh month after the summer solstice; so too sunrise comes
in the seventh double hour after sunset. Therefore seven is the number of
the young light, and it arises when six, the number of the great darkness, is
increased by one. In this way the state of rest gives place to movement.

Here is more of Richard Wilhelm's 1950 translation of the I Ching on the meaning of Returning:

The winter solstice has always been celebrated in China as the resting time of
the year—a custom that survives in the time of rest observed at the new year.
In winter the life energy, symbolized by thunder, the Arousing, is still
underground. Movement is just at its beginning; therefore it must be
strengthened by rest so that it will not be dissipated by being used
prematurely. This principle, i.e., of allowing energy that is renewing itself to
be reinforced by rest, applies to all similar situations. The return of health
after illness, the return of understanding after an estrangement: everything
must be treated tenderly and with care at the beginning, so that the return
may lead to a flowering.

*

The chinese character for Fu, which also means luck, is said to be a pictograph of a bird taking care of its fledgling.

*

Our New Year's plans were slightly dashed when one of my circle came down with a horrible flu at the last second. I think that we will listen to the oracle and stay close to home. Rest and wait for the proper moment of return. Everyone please be safe. Peace.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mesopotamia

Ex Libris

© Michael Parkes
I decided to take a break from the shop this morning with the thought of visiting some old friends.

 I walked up the steep hill to the modern building and went looking for Inspector Maigret. Simenon's wizened detective was nowhere to be found in the sparkling new library.

I thought,well perhaps I can pay a visit to Archie and Nero but alas, the shelves were also barren and devoid of anything resembling Stout. The story was the same for Lord Dunsany and William Morris, as well as a host of other scribes who had written books that had once brought such infinite pleasure to my soul.

I have made many good friends of these authors, or at least their biblio progeny by proxy. I can pick up a book that I read and loved as a youth and now find an entirely different story in its place. Some that I thought wise and powerful are now simply unintelligible. Others surrender their gifts and secrets only now in my dotage as I finally have the life experience to allow me to understand them.

But certainly with every year more and more of my favorites seem to disappear from the shelves. The books that take their place are pale imitations of the literary treasure chests that have bestowed their many gifts on me in the past. The pleasure of the printed page has largely given way to the warm hum of the electronic instrument. We have undergone a general coarsening of culture, from Springer to the Kardashians and reality television. The elegant and eloquent language of the classics is largely lost on our base modern world.

This year will mark my twentieth year without television. Without this electronic tether to popular culture, I further remove myself from the pulse and codex of the present age. Like Rip Van Winkle awakening after a long sleep I find myself shocked and amazed at the crude imprimatur of our current time and the dearth of informed colloquy in our conversation.

My friend was looking for a book the other day. "Read one of the giants," I exhorted him. "Twain, Dumas, Stevenson, Homer." I am afraid that if things keep going the way they they are going and we lose them, their voices and souls might be forever trapped inside their cloth bound boards and tough leather bindings for eternity.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Steppenwolf



Mas Comida.

I am nearing the end of the "calle" on my comprehensive look at mexican food eateries in Fallbrook. I believe that I have four restaurants left and time will tell if I possess the intestinal fortitude (thank you, Helen) to finish my culinary quest. Due to some cherry picking on my part during the nascent stages of my search for the perfect burrito, I am left here at the end with a few places that are either totally outside of my knowledge base or plainly speaking, places that look funky enough to kill me. Since I approach my task with a fearsome and somewhat intrepid sense of  obligation, I will wander into those last remaining joints as a public service to you, my reader,  bearing little thought to the harm I may be committing to my body.

And so, I sample El Parque today, the funky and slightly dilapidated spot across from the entrance to Live Oak Park. Purportedly a favorite amongst our local mexican population, a couple of my gringo campañeros have eaten there without any signs of physical or bodily harm, in fact many of them really enjoy the place. Very kicked back.

There is a danger to dissing establishments in one's hometown, especially if you are a merchant. People can get surly. Objectivity must necessarily fly out the window when one is considering self preservation. You want to give people the benefit of the doubt. And so let me say it. El Parque is not that bad. I walked out of there on my own two feet, I didn't leave on a gurney.


I thought that I would have my friend Brett accompany me on this venture. We partied when he still drank and that was over 25 years ago. We wandered in and I was digging the funky retro posters and campsite ambience. The kitchen looked clean enough. There were a bunch of young construction guys there for lunch, fueling up. I headed for the jukebox and struck instant gold, The Pusher by Steppenwolf and some James Gang.

The menu is very pedestrian, the only thing that looked slightly interesting or rather different was a chimichanga, which I hear by the way is good. I asked the guy behind the counter what was good and got sort of a pained look before he gave me the mandatory everything is good shpiel. Menudo served on the weekends.

I settled on a carne asada burrito and Brett had a taco combination. Hot carrots and cokes, he diet.  I got my burrito and realized I forgot to say no onions and the thing was just peppered with them. The meat had a slightly gamey smell but not necessarily in a bad way. I ate dog accidentally once in Cozumel, I swear. Maybe it was monkey? In any case, I was sick for two weeks. This particular meat might have been a little off, but I have certainly eaten far, far worse. The musty odor could never be considered attractive but the burrito was certainly very filling. Carrots were good, and big, largest I have encountered on the whole tour.

What can I tell you about El Parque? I left under my own volition, standing up with my head held high. That in itself, is what I consider a victory at this stage of the game. Until next time.

My Only Love

Antilocapra americana


One of the rarer animals that I have ever seen in our country is the pronghorn (Antilocapra americana), a species of artiodactyl mammal native to our continent. People call the pronghorn an antelope but it is in reality not related to the antelope but its own distinct species. Once there were 12 species of antilocaprid on our continent, it is now the lone survivor. Years ago I can recall large herds of them running faster than our car on trips through rural Wyoming but I hadn't seen any for over twenty years until our recent trip to Yellowstone.  I took this not so adequate shot of three pronghorn up in a remote area near the Hayden Valley on my most recent trip. Someday hopefully I will be able to afford a super long lens.

Pronghorn are very fast, the fastest land mammal in the western hemisphere. Some reports have clocked them at 54 mph, it can sustain a higher top speed than a cheetah. (Its ancient enemy was the now extinct american cheetah.) The pronghorn is very fast but a poor jumper and the species have been gravely impacted by barbed wire fencing.

Pronghorns were first discovered by the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which noted their existence in South Dakota. Their range extends from southern Saskatchewan and Alberta in Canada south through the United States (southwestern Minnesota and central Texas west to coastal southern California and northern Baja California Sur, to Sonora and San Luis Potosí in northern Mexico.

There is a subspecies known as the Sonoran pronghorn (Antilocapra americana sonoriensis) which occurs in Arizona and Mexico.Other subspecies include the Mexican pronghorn (A. a. mexicana), the Oregon pronghorn (A. a. oregona), and the critically endangered Baja California Pronghorn (A. a. peninsularis).

New Mexico Pronghorn © Kenneth Ray Seals

*

Cabrillo and Ferrelo's route to the new world, 1542
The reason I bring this up is that I read in the San Diego Reader a few weeks back that the Spanish explorer Cabrillo noted them in San Diego, roaming Kearney Mesa no less. This blew my mind, pronghorn, Kearney Mesa? Who had ever heard of such a thing? Antelopes springing their way around the chaparral clad plateaus of Surf City? Could it be true? I believe that it probably is, after doing a little bit of research.

“If you look at the last 30 years, 40 years, urbanization has increased dramatically,” he says. “San Diego County is extremely biodiverse. We live among up to 80 species of mammals that occurred or are occurring here. We also have many that are extinct. For example, we had pronghorn [antelope] that Cabrillo’s naturalists had noted on Kearny Mesa [in 1542] when they came off the ship. But [the pronghorn] are long gone, long extirpated. Kumeyaay, Spanish settlers, we Americans — all of us are to blame.”

I had never heard this factoid before and decided to explore a little bit myself.  I found a website snippet that said that the last native pronghorn sighting in San Diego county was at Carrizo Gorge in 1922. Evidently a herd was reintroduced in the 1980's.

Last grizzly bear killed in SD was 1906 at San Onofre Creek. Last pronghorn sighting in the County was 1922 at Carrizo Gorge in Borrego. side note: Last Jaguar killed in California was 1860 at Palm Springs.

I also found this survey published in 1925, Nelson, E. W. 1925. Status of the pronghorned antelope, 1922-1924. USDA Bull. 1346:1-64.

In his statewide compilation, Nelson reported a census of 1070 pronghorn in California. Most of these animals (980) were in the northeastern part of the state, but a herd of about 30 was also reported as being present in 1922 between Granite Wells and Randsburg in the Mohave Desert, with another band of 11 in Antelope Valley along the Kern-Los Angeles County line. He also reported, but did not map, a band of 13 as having been seen in 1924 between Willow Springs and Liebre Ranch on the west side of Antelope Valley in Kern County. Two bands totaling 29 head were also reported from the San Joaquin Valley between Mendota and Panache Creeks in Fresno County. Another small band of 5 animals was also reported as occurring in 1922 on the "Colorado Desert" along the Imperial--San Diego County border near Campo.


Nelson's informants estimated about 200 pronghorn on the east side of BC from the California border to the boundary of what is now BCS. Another 100 to 300 animals were thought to be in the Vizcaino Desert in BCS between Vizcaino and Ballenas bays.


Newberry, J. S., M.D. 1855. Report upon the zoology of the route. No. 2, Chap. 1, pp. 70-71 In H. L. Abbot. 1857. Reports of explorations and surveys to ascertain ... etc. U.S. Senate ex. Doc. No 78, Vol. 7, Washington D.C.


Page 71: "Though found in nearly all parts of the territory of the United States west of the Mississippi, it [Antilocapra Americana] is probably most numerous in the valley of the San Joaquin, California. There it is found in herds literally of thousands; and though it is much reduced in numbers by the war which is incessantly and remorselessly waged upon it, it is still so common that its flesh is cheaper and more abundant in the markets of the Californian cities than that of any other animal. On nearly every day's march between the valley of the Sacramento and the Columbia, we saw either the antelope itself or its peculiar track in the sand."


"In the Sacramento Valley they have become rare, and the few still remaining are excessively wild."


North, A. W. 1907. Hunting the bighorn. Sunset Magazine. Oct.:523-532.

I also found this document co written by a woman at the U.S, Department of Fish and Game that takes a rather pessimistic view of the Pronghorns' survival in our state.

A REVIEW OF LITERATURE PERTAINING TO PRONGHORN IN CALIFORNIA FROM 1769 to 2009
          JIM D. YOAKUM, Western Wildlife, P.O. Box 369, Verdi, NV 89439-0369, USA
ALICE J. KOCH, California Department of Fish and Game, P. O. Box 216, Templeton, CA 93465,USA
ABSTRACT: Recent assessment of pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) translocations and urban development projects has revived interest in the legacy of pronghorn in California. These issues are of increased public concern, especially development projects that impact scarce native grassland – habitat for the few remaining herds in southern California. Therefore, the scientific and popular literature for pronghorn in California was investigated with an objective of making this data readily available for concerned sources. More than 125 reports from 1769 (Bolton 1927, Crisby 2003) to 2009 were located. Although pronghorn were historically abundant in California, few remain today, and these are predominantly located on northeastern rangelands. The impact of insidious civilization developments appears deleterious to herds experiencing perilously low numbers south of San Francisco. The plight of these wild herds is apparently tied to the perpetuation of native grassland abundant with forbs. There is concern that if pronghorn are to remain a heritage on southern rangelands of the “Golden State,” that native grasslands need to be perpetuated in healthy condition – then it may be feasible to perpetuate native pronghorn populations.
I still haven't uncovered a substantiation of the Kearney Mesa claim. Sauer's 1975 book Sixteenth century North America: the land and the people as seen by the Europeans, University of California Press does mention Cabrillo seeing them in Mexico.


I kept digging and found this 2006 survey Bulletin (Southern California Academy of Sciences) Publisher: Southern California Academy of Sciences Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Science and technology Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2006 Southern California Academy of Sciences ISSN: 0038-3872 which historically put the pronghorn even closer to my home in Fallbrook, up in Perris up the road:

Stephens, F. 1906. California mammals. West Coast Publishing Co., San Diego, CA.
"In 1877 I saw a band of about 2 dozen where Perris, Riverside County, now stands, and the next year I saw one within the limits of what is now the city of Riverside. At this writing they are almost exterminated in this State. There are a very few in Modoc, Lassen and Mono Counties, and a small band or two in the deserts in the southeastern part of the State. All told there may be two or three hundred left and this number is steadily diminishing."
Stephens, F. 1921. An annotated list of the mammals of San Diego County, California. Trans. San Diego Soc. Nat. History 3:41-56.
Stephens reports the presence of four pronghorn at Carrizo Creek in the Anza Borrego Desert "many years ago."
Van Dyke, T. S. 1888. The city and county of San Diego. The Pacific Press, Oakland and San Francisco.
Van Dyke, T. S. 1905. Sport on the Lower Colorado. Western Field 6:3-7.
Van Dyke reports pronghorn in El Cajon and Otay Mesa in San Diego County, the last one being killed in 1883.
Priestly, H. I. 1937. A historical, political, and natural description of California by Pedro Fages, soldier of Spain. Univ. of California Press, Berkeley. 83 pp.
In 1769, while Fages was traveling with the Portola expedition through the San Diego area, he reports observing "deer, antelope, conies, hares without number, wildcats, wolves, some bears, coyotes and squirrels of three kinds."
Singer, Dan. J. 1916?. Desert trails. Field and Stream. Sept. 413-416, Oct. 503-506, Nov. 588-590, Dec. 678-681.
Not seen. This article may describe a hunt with E. W. Funcke and the collecting of Singer's pronghorn in the U.S. National Museum (Table 1).
Slade, C. B. 1902. Hunting sheep and antelope in Lower California. Outing 39 (Feb):505-512.
Slade kills a buck pronghorn out of a group of 3 on Mesa Huatamote (due east of El Rosario) between the "Stone Corral" near San Juan de Dios (Espinosa's Ranch) and La Tinaja. The antelope was near a dead juniper and on a high mesa 25 miles north of the "Plains of San Agustine" (Llanos San Agustin) 20 miles from the coast. His party had left from San Quintin.
I guess that I can count myself as lucky for having seen this wonderful creature. Who knows, in a few more generations, there might not be any left anywhere at all.

Crazy Yids


As much as I bag on the christians, let me just say that the jews are even screwier. You might say we wrote the book. I have been reading about the goings on in Beit Shemesh in Israel where the orthodox jews have been acting like a bunch of total assholes and harassing a poor little girl.

Na'ama Margolese, an eight year old american immigrant, has been forced to walk a gauntlet of abuse from the haredim on her way to school every morning. The ultra orthodox haredi want total segregation of the sexes on the public sidewalks and are trying to impose a public dress code. They throw rocks and hurl invectives. The little girl has been spat on and called a whore because she has not adopted the 19th century dress favored by these dirty parasites.

"When I walk to school in the morning I used to get a tummy ache because I was so scared … that they were going to stand and start yelling and spitting," the pale, blue-eyed girl said softly in an interview with The Associated Press Monday. "They were scary. They don't want us to go to the school."

Na'ama attends a school that borders the ultra orthodox neighborhood. The little girls at the school are forced to endure a daily screaming session and even physical accosts by the black hats. Which is crazy because she already wears orthodox dresses, just not the garb favored by the wackos.

Beit Shemesh's growing orthodox population of wackjobs has posted signage calling for the separation of sexes on the sidewalks, dispatched "modesty patrols" to enforce a chaste female appearance and hurled stones at offenders and outsiders. Walls of the neighborhood are plastered with signs exhorting women to dress modestly in closed-necked, long-sleeved blouses and long skirts. Sounds a bit like Iran, doesn't it? Another older Israeli women caused quite a stir in recent weeks when she refused to move to the back of a public bus.

The haredi are prone to calling their jewish detractors nazis and anti semites, which shows both how ridiculous they are semantically and the depth of their own intolerance. It also denigrates the scope of the actual holocaust. My personally feeling is that you can worship the Trix Rabbit for all I care, but when it means assaulting and abusing other people, your rights stop at your fingertips.

The ultra orthodox make up about 10% of the Israeli population. They don't serve in the army and won't work, their attitude is that they serve the country adequately by their constant prayer. They are basically leaches and parasites, philosophical refugees from the eastern european shtetl, who refuse to wake up and find that they are living in the wrong century. But they have curried favor with the current government, that in this day and age needs their political help in forming its coalition. Netanyahu has rode the tiger and may not ever be able to dismount.

*

Of course, we have seen this kind of behavior before, in the islamic nation or amongst some of the wackier christian sects. Makes people sick of religion, in any form. You want to worship the deity of your choice, fine, just don't expect the world to supplicate to your own twisted god and doctrine.

Christianity and Islam are what is known in the theology business as "completion" religions. They grabbed judaic doctrine and both religions aimed to perfect it in their own inimitable way. Unfortunately, the mother creed is one of the most repressive belief systems one could ever imagine. Is it a wonder so many jews are neurotic? It has to be in our DNA by now. You johnny come lately's got nothing on us.We invented the whole punishment by god deal and brought it to its stunning apex.

There are 618 mitzvot or commandments. You think you can screw somebody's head up with a mere 10? Tell you what to eat or when to shit, put tzitzit on the corners of clothing (Num. 15:38), who you can marry, who you can screw, how to treat the gentiles, not to take in pledge utensils used in preparing food (Deut. 24:6), don't surrender a slave, who has fled to the land of Israel, to his owner who lives outside Palestine (Deut. 23:16), not to make any figures for ornament, even if they are not worshipped (Ex. 20:20), don't cross breed cattle. (Lev. 19:19) (according to the Talmud, this also applies to birds) (CCN142). All broaches of biblical etiquette are of course, punishable by death.

The list goes on and on, you basically can't fart without offending god.  I have to ask myself, if you believe in an omnipotent creator, don't you think that creator bestowed on you a brain and a sense of judgement for a particular reason? Does it take the possibility of infinite hellfire and punishment for you to want to simply do the right thing for its own sake and because it is the right thing to do?

I am not a perfect human being and I admit to having occasional moral lapses. But I will continue to try to do good for its own sake and not to curry favor with and save me from, the punitive smiting of a pissed off, angry god.

© Kliban

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Romeo Void



Always liked Iyall and her drummer, Aaron somebody. She is a native american from the Cowlitz tribe.

Blind Justice

The Los Angeles Times ran an incredible story today about the large number of people that are falsely imprisoned in the County Jail  because of mistaken identity. The times research staff figures about 1480 people have been locked up on bogus charges during the last five years. In some years it was as many as five people wrongly locked up per day. The Times reports that the Sheriff spent very little time investigating any of the false incarcerations.

Now I am sure that mistakes are always going to happen but what was startling in this case was how the deputies really sounded like they didn't give a shit. They point out that the number of people wrongly identified as wanted criminals makes up a tiny fraction of the 15,000 inmates in the county's jails at any given time. Well I am sure that is a lot of consolation.
"Sheriff's officials said they are bombarded with false innocence claims from inmates. It would be impossible to check every claim, they said, and jailers' authority to release an inmate ordered detained by a judge is limited.
"People lie to us about who they are all the time," said sheriff's Cmdr. David Fender. Sheriff's officials maintain that their top priority is to hold people awaiting court hearings rather than questioning the validity of the arrests.
"It's not our position or authority to check the work of every police agency in the county," said sheriff's Capt. Mike Parker."

Peace through Barbecue

“I told them, ‘When a guy who flips burgers for a living is your main man in North Korea, something’s wrong."
Bobby Egan

You can't open a paper or visit an internet site without reading the curious tale of Robert Egan. This story is so amazing, how a high school drop out who owns a barbecue in Hackensack becomes a go to guy in international diplomatic relations between the United States and North Korea. Stranger than fiction. But you listen to the guy and you can understand how he has been able to accomplish what he has in establishing a conduit to a secret and dictatorial regime. I think that he is an impressive guy.

Bobby Egan was a one time roofer, a guy with a little drug problem, a guy who knew his way around mobsters,  who decided to help some Vietnam vet friends out in the 1980's with the POW/MIA issue. He took it upon himself to fly to communist vietnam and  parley with the regime. Guy opens a barbecue joint in Hackensack and befriends some North Koreans and becomes a respected intermediary, going on junkets courtesy of the Clinton White House, presumably with Bill Richardson.

I first heard Egan interviewed the day after the late autocrat's death on Monday. He was not an apologist for the regime whatsoever but offered some unique perspective on the roots of their paranoia. A 5000 year old country split apart  by the United States in the last hundred years, how do you think that they would react, he asks? But he is quick to point out that it is an awful place where people are struggling.

He wrote a book last year, “Eating With the Enemy: How I Waged Peace With North Korea From My BBQ Shack in Hackensack." HBO optioned it, Gandolfini and DeNiro are involved. Read this link and this link, both with the same curious title, Barbecue Diplomacy. God bless the brisketmakers...

Roxy Music - The Main Thing



I have been listening to a ton of Roxy lately. So good.

Dim Sommers


Great holiday! Christmas at Bill and Jean's. Best lasagna in the world, dice, family, presents and good times. I was ripping on the billiards table, only time I lost was the one time I beat myself scratching on the eight to win the game. Settled some old pool scores, the kid couldn't be touched. Our friend's gave us soup spoons for Christmas which was both thoughtful and prescient, since we are going to a soup party tomorrow night and have been instructed to bring our own bowls. We will have our own hardware as well. And soup is on our mind as we test run the duck soup tonight.

Today was Christmas and that means Dim Sum of course, the two couples we were meeting down at Jasmine both got there earlier than we did and figured out that they were fellow friends of ours by the looks of each other, which is kind of cool. So they were seated together when we arrived in the cavernous hall. One person was gluten free and the other was vegetarian so we had to be a  bit more discerning than usual, Leslie and I more in the habit of "firing first and asking questions later."



We tore through multiple metal baskets of dim sum like a couple million buzzing cicadas waking up from a long nap. I barked out orders with the authoritative tone of a third world despot. Duck, roast pork, scallops, shrimp, crab claws, chicken, turnip squares, shumai, lotus wrapped rice, the works, all found their way to our table,  the meal ended with a stunning crescendo of sesame balls filled with their luscious paste. Great palette cleanser. The place was jammed but curiously and unlike the last three years, I didn't really see many other yids. Maybe they go to the reformed dim sum place now? It was mostly asians at the restaurant this year. Didn't know they ate this stuff.

After brunch we went next door to check out the takeout express and I snapped this barbecued pig head. Looks interesting, anybody in?

Wonder Warthog unmasked.

We then went to the Chinese curio shop around the corner and then on to the Vietnamese herbs store next door on convoy and I bought some american ginseng and handed everybody their own little root. We took a group picture outside and I asked everybody to imagine that they were a tree. Michael is actually an italian cypress, if you were wondering.


We are now comatose for the afternoon. I am prone on the couch, digesting my whole week. Got homemade tamales to take home from two sources, sweet and conventional. I have been a real chazer this holiday. Make it stop, mommy! Hope that everybody is having a great Sunday. It is Christmas, you know.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Atom Heart Mother


all of it.

Moo


After over 34 years of studies and warnings over the dangers of their use, the FDA announced Thursday that it was withdrawing its ten year old recommendations to limit the use of antibiotics in animal feed. Tom Vilsack, an industry man if you have ever seen one, is going to the ever popular "voluntary compliance"card. Food safety groups are understandably enraged by what they consider is the abrogation of the USDA's mandate. Pharmaceutical companies are happy. We are only trying to buy certified, organic meat these days. I suggest that you look into the whole issue. It is true that antibiotics can really help out a sick animal that has been standing around in its own poop all day in a constrained, dirty feedlot. Probably should throw in some clonipin too. But hey, what I don't see won't kill me.

Senators' Feinstein and Slaughter introduced a bill in 2009 to not ban antibiotics in agriculture but instead would gradually phase out the use of seven antibiotics that are critical in human medicine.  The bill also calls for farmers to use antibiotics only under veterinary supervision and only for sick animals; antibiotics could not be used as a daily meal supplement in animals' feed. In July of last year Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Congress that there is a clear link between antibiotic use in animals and antibiotic resistance in humans.
"We agree with Secretary Vilsack that industrial farms should use antibiotics only for disease treatment and control — that is, when animals or herds are sick — and not for growth promotion and routine addition to feed to compensate for overcrowded or unsanitary conditions," said Erik Olson, director of food programs for the Pew Health Group.
Olson added that he was "disappointed" by how long it is taking for the Food and Drug Administration to issue final guidance on voluntary restrictions on antibiotic use.
"We are disappointed, however, that FDA has failed to fulfill its promise to act on the clear scientific evidence and curb antibiotic overuse," he said. "The time to act is long overdue."
Cow taking long nap.

Kim Jong Il, Dictator and golfing legend


While the world mourns the loss of one of it's longest running dictators, North Korea's Kim Jong Il, the golf world is even more stunned by the loss of arguably the greatest golfer in history.

Il picked up the sticks late in life, for god's sake he had a dictatorship to run. He first ventured out to the fairway and the age of 52. On his first outing the diminutive duffer recorded a feat that will never be duplicated, especially now that Tiger's game has gone to seed. The cherubic little tyrant carded a 38 the first time out, with eleven holes in one. On an 18 hole course! It occurred at the 7,700-yard (7,041m) Pyongyang Golf Course. This isn't your uncle's pitch and putt or putting it through the clown's mouth at the miniature golf arcade, we are talking regulation here and the event was witnessed by at least 17 security guards. The portly god king shot a round 25 shots better than the next best round ever shot in history. Worse shot was a birdie. I think that Bobby Clampett shot a 77 the first time he ever picked up the clubs but this is ridiculous. Of course this was child's play for Kim, since he had previously bowled a perfect 300 the first time bowling. Say what you want about a starving populace, this little guy had a knack!

And that is why he is the supreme dear leader, commander, communicator and pearl of the east and we are just kim chee, ladies and gentlemen. Doff your cap to Kim Jong, we'll never see his kind again.

North Korea at night, you can really see the stars twinkling in the sky without all that glare.

Cadillac and Trailer


Longtime Fallbrook songwriting legend Larry Robinson's newest release, Cadillac and Trailer, magically appeared on my doorstop last week. First thing I noticed was the nifty cover art by my pal Brett Stokes. I finally opened the thing last night and gave it a listen on the way home from work. I think that it is his best work yet.

Cadillac and Trailer is by my rough count, Larry's eighth album, if I can use the archaic term album in this digital age. It is a collection of mostly road songs, all written by Larry except for one song by San Diego's Gregory Page, Dusty Road.

Larry certainly has put on the mileage to play these songs with authority and conviction. Larry started playing in the sixties in the L.A. band Things to Come with Russ Kunkel , a band that made a splash but never quite hit the big time. He has played in every two bit bar and saloon around and had a huge following at Fallbrook's Packing House for many years until it got sold and the new owners went trendy and decided to jettison the regular performers and clientele. Larry and the late Jarry Presko were a duo on the order of Martin and Lewis and we all miss their artistic collaboration.

Larry is a fine player with an authentic, dusky, baritone voice and lifelong commitment to music. I haven't talked to him about this disc, but I will make a wild guess that much of the material is autobiographical. Daddy's a Dreamer, the last cut, is one of the finest, great fingerstyle and a warning shot across the bow to any families that possess a dreamer who is called to perform and follow his or her muse.

Another cut that caught me was Black Cowboy, a paean to the oft forgotten contribution of the negro cowboy in the old west, a cowboy that apparently roped, branded, whored and sang with the best of them, presumably with better rhythm. Another catchy song about a young temptress is Jezebel. A beautiful baby yes it's true, but no one knows it better than you...

The whole album is a gem, well written songs seen through Larry's unique and honest perspective and wry sense of humor. You sense the perspective gained from a lifetime of making music without the guarantee of much of a payback. He is ably backed by some really good musicians and vocalists. If I can find a link so that you can pick up a copy I will post it. Give it a listen.